Foujita: La Vie – Everything Passes

11 Jul

Now I have neither happiness nor unhappiness.

Everything passes.

This is the one and only thing I have thought resembled a truth in society of human beings where I have dwelled up to now as in a burning hell.

Everything passes.”

(Osamu Dazai, No Longer Human)

Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita, La Vie, 1917

Japanese artist Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita fell in love with Western art at a very young age and in 1913, at the age of twenty-seven, he moved to Paris. The role of an exotic eccentric in Montparnasse surrounded by fellow artists, foreigners and eccentrics fit Foujita like a glove. A person as vibrant and theatrical as he was belonged there. Some of the artists from his artistic gang were Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, Juan Gris, Picasso, and Henri Matisse. Foujita’s painting “La Vie” is an example of his early work in France and the style of the painting reminds me so much of Modigliani. The painting shows a woman dressed in blue, set against the background of a solitary sandy beach with a single little boat, stranded and confined in sand instead of floating freely and being carried by the waves. The woman’s oval and slightly elongated face and the shape of her eyes remind me of Modigliani’s melancholy and mysterious mask-like female faces and also of the silent marble Brancusi’s Muse. Simplified and geomentric looking, her head and also the strange position of her hands seem as though they were borrowed from some archaic scuplture, or seen in a dream. The cheeks are bright pink and the fingers slender and long. Her head leans on her right in a very exaggerated way, as if this mysterious woman is bowing her head down, not from shame, but as a gesture of both a realisation of the defeat and calm acceptance. The waves in the water behind her are breaking and hitting the sandy shore then retreating in a rhythm of nature which neither of us can stop or influence. The mood that I feel in Foujita’s painting “La Vie” resonates with me strongly and serves almost as a sacred message to a feeling that is always inside me, sometimes more hushed and sometimes awaken like a volcano, like a wound that never heals, it brings anguish wrapped up in nostalgic rosy cover of sweetness. This feeling is the painful awareness of transience of everything, the powerlesness against the fast and unpredictable currents of life, the best way I can describe the feeling that the painting awakes inside me is by sharing a much loved quote from Gabriel García Márquez’s novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude”: Upset by two nostalgias facing each other like two mirrors, he lost his marvelous sense of unreality and he ended up recommending to all of them that they leave, that they forget everything he had taught them about the world and the human heart, […], and that wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end.” Everything passes, every spring and summer once gone are gone forever, a flower will bloom and wither and nothing can resurrect it, memories are pale and hushed shadows, tears cannot bring back a love once lost, and all change is inevitable, c’est la vie… So what else can we do but bow our heads down like Foujita’s silent and solemn muse and let the river of life flow, for our resistence would only bring anguish and ache.

4 Responses to “Foujita: La Vie – Everything Passes”

  1. rhjbyron 11th Jul 2021 at 4:47 pm #

    Well you’re not alone ! You could have provided a plethora of lyrics for The Smiths/Morrissey! 😒 Choose the world you live in 😌 There is one common flow one common breathing, all things are in sympathy “Hippocrates”

    Kind regards Richard Byron


    Liked by 1 person

    • Byron's Muse 11th Jul 2021 at 6:07 pm #

      There’s always place for Morrissey’s lyrics, you are right! … there’s a club if you’d like to go, you could meet somebody who really loves you, and you go and you stand on your own, you leave on your own, you go home and you cry and you want to die… “When I’m lying in my bed, and I think about life and I think about death, and neither one particularly appeals to me”… Some that come to mind.


  2. Gea Austen 12th Jul 2021 at 12:12 pm #

    the words reminded me of Bob Dylan , To Ramona ” Everything passes

    Everything changes

    Just do what you think you should do ” …. these are profound truths ,,

    what a beautiful painting ! I’ve never seen it before , its lovely

    .. I really enjoy reading your words and so beautifully put with pictures of all kinds ,,.. Gea

    Liked by 1 person

    • Byron's Muse 12th Jul 2021 at 3:48 pm #

      Awww thank you, it’s so lovely to hear my words and aesthetic are appreciated. And thank you for reminding me of that song, it’s very fitting 🦋🌹


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